Today is All Saints Day and we are busy preparing for the school Mass at 11.00. After the excitement generated in the media and retail outlets up and down the country for Halloween, it is good to reflect today on our role as Saints. God has called upon us all to be Saints, we reflect that in our actions, the compassion and care we show and the living Gospel values to the full. As the Year of Mercy draws to a close let us in this month remember the purpose which God intends for us and why the school even exists at all. There has been Catholic education in Hereford for 156 years, it is important that we maintain this tradition but not simply in word but by being the people that God has called us to be.
There was much talk earlier in the year concerning the return of grammar schools after a leak to the ‘press' by a civil servant of a document concerning the nature of schooling in this country. Much of the debate was ill informed, the evidence concerning greater social mobility for those ‘poorer’ children who attend grammar schools is ‘flakey’ at best. I taught for 11 years in a secondary modern in Buckinghamshire, where they kept their grammar schools. Many of those children felt labelled as failures at the age of 11 and it took a lot of encouragement to break through that. I understand that we will all experience ‘failure’ at some time in our lives and indeed learning from it is one of the elements that we teach at St Mary’s as part of our ‘growth mindset ‘ philosophy, but this is different; it is putting a label on children when there is no need to. At St Mary’s we are glad to take pupils regardless of ability, all we want is for them to try their best, except the challenges we put their way and to grow in the knowledge of Christ. We don’t need grammar schools for that to happen.